He Says/She Says: Pillows


In the He Says/She Says series, we discuss financial topics where we agree to disagree.

You’ll hear the same advice from every personal finance guru out there: diversify, diversify, diversify. There’s any number of ways to do just that with your assets (even ones that might matter in a zombie apocalypse). And in our house, it’s really not too hard to figure out Joanna’s “investment” of choice: pillows.

This isn’t a topic I was planning to delve into on a personal finance-ish blog — but pillows use up our finances, and this topic gets personal. So there’s that.

Pillows are fine. I like putting my head on one. ONE. Uno. I don’t know how much clearer I need to be that my head only necessitates a single pillow to sleep on. Which is why growing up from childhood to college, I only ever had a single pillow on my bed. And that’s how my bed would still look, if it weren’t for meeting this one pretty Southern girl…

What’s funny is, Joanna sleeps with one pillow, too. But that doesn’t stop my girl from collecting pillows like they’re an endangered species. When we first got married, we only had a few “pillow worthy” pieces of furniture, so I didn’t catch on to her pillow lust all that quickly.

“So we’ll need to start with four more pillows for the bed, and then probably a couple throw pillows for the couch.”
“What? We already have pillows. And our couch is made of pillows. But that’s cool that there are pillows made especially for throwing.”
“We need them. They will make our house a home.”
“Ok. I actually have no idea what that means. But ok.”

And so it began. One pillow here, two pillows there. And five years of marriage later, we have enough pillows to sleep the entire Duggar family and THEN some. What’s crazier is that I’ve found out she’s not alone in suffering from cover-the-bed-so-all-you-see-is-pillows-itis. What is this phenomenon?

Other than a few early marriage splurges, Joanna’s been good about limiting her pillow purchases. But even when bought with restraint, I still don’t like pillows. They’re annoying to put on the bed, they’re frustrating to put covers on (this is starting to sound like an infomercial), and half the pillows we own aren’t even soft. Dumb. Alright, I think this rant is done. I’ve still got plenty of other things I’m thinking in my head, but I think I’ve wasted enough breath on them.

Can you hop in your bed at night without navigating a minefield of pillows? How do you really feel about pillows? Are they splurgeworthy?

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  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies February 22, 2013 at 8:07 am

    I’m a little mixed on this – but I think today’s vote goes to Joanna.
    I don’t do throw pillows (the only ones we have were free hand-me-downs), but I love a bed that’s half (or more) covered in pillows. One for under my bed, one for in front of my stomach, one above my head, and maybe 6 more to bury myself in if Mr. PoP is out of town for the night. I think it’s the socially acceptable version of sleeping in a bed full of stuffed animals the way I used to as a kid. =)
    I feel like that might be the first time I voted Joanna on a He Said She Said with you guys!

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Woo! That’s what I’m talking about. I think you’re onto something with saying they serve the same purpose as stuffed animals did when we were kids. I totally agree!

  • Reply HappyFund February 22, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Had the same disagreement with HFGF (HappyFund GirlFriend). She replaced the throw pillows that came with the couch because it apparently looked horrendous. When they started to smell like dog urine, she replaced them again. I finally made her get the ones with interchangeable cases and cushions.

    The utility of pillows ends at supporting my head when I sleep. That’s it, so I’m there with you on this one. For HFGF, she likes to cuddle them in her sleep, so a few extra ones are good. She made the same comment about pillows making “our house a home”. Well, our bed or couch may not look like the magazines, but it’s not any less of a home!

    The discussion over pillows seems nit picky, but I think the real discussion behind it is spending on what really matters to you innately versus buying stuff because it’s what the outside world tells you how things should be.

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 12:34 am

      I think even Johnny would be okay with me replacing our pillows if they smelled like dog urine. 🙂

      And outside world? Fuhgeddaboutit. I just so happen to love soft surfaces, and I also like those surfaces to be pretty! 😉 Luckily, so far I’ve found ways to fit pillows into our budget without overspending.

  • Reply Emily @ evolvingPF February 22, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I have never understood this stereotypical husband/wife debate – so I guess I’m with Johnny. I have literally never purchased a pillow and I don’t think Kyle has either. The (two) pillows on our bed were wedding registry gifts and the throw pillows on our couches were a gift from Kyle’s mom (before we were married). I think when we buy a house and have money to furnish it I’m going to hire someone to decorate because I just don’t care at all – but even then pillows will be at a minimum because the superfluous ones have next to no utility.

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 12:57 am

      What a shame… but at least it’s one less topic you and the hubs disagree on. We definitely have some pillows that would be deemed superfluous, but I love them just as much as the ones that serve a function. I don’t discriminate. 😉

  • Reply My Financial Independence Journey February 22, 2013 at 8:51 am

    It’s worth spending money for good comfortable pillows.

    But once you get to the point where the pillows take up more space on the furniture than the people, you have gone to far and it’s time for an intervention.

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 1:02 am

      Okay, I admit I’ve sat on couches where the space to sit is almost obsolete because of the sheer number of pillows. Those people possibly need an intervention. But until I reach that point, let the pillow buying continue!

  • Reply Michelle February 22, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I like lots of pillows on our couches, but I hate tons of pillows on our bed. W likes tons of pillows and I think it’s so annoying haha. He tends to just throw the extra ones on the floor and I hate that because they get all dirty because the dogs will take immediately claim of them once they hit the floor.

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 1:05 am

      We face the same problem with pillows on the floor… we have a cat, and although I love her, I don’t like her hair to get on anything. So, yes, that is one downside to excess pillows. But not enough to sway me. 🙂

  • Reply Roo // NiceGirlNotes February 22, 2013 at 9:00 am

    I’m on Team Joanna. (Sorry, Johnny.)

    I love throw pillows on the couch for aesthetic purposes. It’s like wall art. No, you don’t need to have anything up on your walls. You can just leave all the walls blank and stare at whatever the paint color is, but it’s nice to put art and photos up and make everything a little cozier/warmer.

    Pillows FOREVER.

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 1:11 am

      Perfect, logical explanation, Roo. I’m going to memorize it to use as my argument from here on out, including yelling “Pillows FOREVER!” anytime the topic gets brought up. He actually appreciates wall art so MAYBE, maybe, fingers crossed, I’ll be able to get through to him.

  • Reply Brian February 22, 2013 at 9:02 am

    I’m siding with Johnny, I don’t understand why so many pillows. Lucky for me, my wife feels the same way! Our problem is we don’t really have enough pillows and have to borrow some from our parents when we have guests in the house. Also why is it so hard to find ONE good pillow for a reasonable cost? I mean those things are crazy expensive to buy!

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 1:11 am

      Haha. You’re on the opposite end of the pillow spectrum. The end where I’d like us to be.

      Good pillows are expensive. But I don’t know if there’s a single purchase that you’ll get more mileage out of, so if a few extra bucks will land you an amazing pillow, I say ante up.

  • Reply Tina February 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

    For me, 4 is the perfect number of pillows. We each get one to sleep on and also an extra one to prop our necks if we want to read in bed. Any extra is a pain because I dislike making the bed.

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 1:07 am

      Now that’s a number I can handle. I actually do like to have an extra for propping up in the morning to get on my laptop or read a book. So we’ve officially established 4 as the official number of humans every where.

  • Reply Lyn @ Pretty Frugal February 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Ha, we JUST talked about this the other day. I’ve never been a huge throw pillow-kinda lady, but I think that’s because I have never been able to settle into a place as ‘my own’ for very long. Once we have a house and feel a bit more settled, I’m anticipating the purchase of more ‘decorative’ things like that. OH, NESTING.

    What I hate is when you visit a friend and they have 10 decorative pillows on the guest bed. I end up throwing their beautiful pillows on the floor the whole time and have to figure out their pillow Tetris to put it back together when I leave the house. I feel like I need to leave everything as I found it, and I never know what to do with that stupid cylinder-shaped pillow.

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 1:15 am

      Haha, I know what you mean with guest beds! So true. Part of me kind of loves it, though, because it’s actually a bed with a sufficient number of pillows! I aspire to having a 10-pillow bed someday.

  • Reply Rob February 22, 2013 at 10:02 am

    And you whine, my friend ! 🙂

    My 93 y/o M-I-L, who lives with us, has been into crafts and sewing for years. Her hobbies include making pillows from scratch (all very well made, I may say) as well as teddy bears. This woman raised a large family. My wife is one of 8 kids and there are (at last count), 18 grand kids, 36 great grand kids, as well as 2 great great grand kids. And she has made pillows and teddy bears for every one of them. Needless to say our home is her “central warehouse of operations”. And you think you got pillow issues … 🙂

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 12:42 am

      Not whining, merely “venting”… big difference. 🙂 And you’re right. I’ve got nothing on your pillow manufacturing plant. So maybe I should stop “venting.”

  • Reply John S @ Frugal Rules February 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I am going to have to go with Johhny on this one. I never understand having a bunch of pillows. Thankfully Mrs. Frugal Rules is not into them and we just have the ones we sleep with. My Mom, on the other hand, literally has 15+ on their bed. It’s not a bed, but a place to put a bunch of pillows. 😉

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 12:45 am

      Good man, John. Must have something to do with that awesome name of yours. 🙂

  • Reply Sarah @ Pretty Providence February 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    You sound just like my husband! Although, his mom is a pillow fiend too so he has known about this for his entire life. I think it’s hilarious because it’s probably an never-ending problem in every household.

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 12:49 am

      Based on the comments to this post, clearly this topic strikes a nerve with many a couple. Let your husband know that his pain is felt my simple-minded, utilitarian husbands all around the world.

  • Reply Holly@ClubThrifty February 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I love pillows- pillows to sleep on and decorative pillows. I don’t discriminate! Greg hates the pillows I cuddle with at night because they create a barrier between us =/

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 12:51 am

      Amen, Greg. Pillows just add clutter—and apparently they also create relationship barriers. Down with pillows!

  • Reply Newlyweds on a Budget February 22, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    oh joanna i hear you. I am a pillow hoarder. our couch has lots of them (they’re pretty) and I’ve limited my bed to like six…ok seven. They’re pretty, I love them. That is all.

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 12:52 am

      I need to find a group for you pillow hoarders. There’s got to be a Pillow-ers Anonymous or something out there. I’ll send you a link to get help when I find it. 😉

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 12:54 am

      Yay! Thanks for making me feel justified! Our bed currently has six, but it still looks just a tad empty to me. One of my hopeful splurges this year is to completely redo our bedding, which will *definitely* mean buying lots of pretty pillows. 😀

  • Reply anna February 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I agree that decorative pillows add an extra splash of color(s), and can really pull a room’s theme together. I love body-sized pillows at night, too – much more malleable and cooler in temp. than people. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 12:56 am

      I’ve heard a lot about these body pillows, especially when Joanna was pregnant. At least those have some sort of purpose other than decorating. But knowing Joanna, the body pillows would become decorating pillows, too.

  • Reply Chris February 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    “And our couch is made of pillows.” This made me laugh out loud at work. Nobody has said anything yet.

    My bed has 6 pillows. I prefer 2 for myself and since it is a queen it has 2 more. The comforter came with 2 (accent?) pillows. I’m not sure what they are but one is nice for sleeping while the other is absolutely useless. I need to…throw (pillow) them out…ba dum tsh.

    Anyways, I’m with Johnny. I think most men are just built utilitarian. The only pretty things we like are women.

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 12:57 am

      Haha. Love the rim shot. And truer words have never been spoken than your last paragraph. Well stated.

  • Reply Lacy @EarnVerse February 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    I love me some pillows! Why?

    1: Pillows are cheap
    2: Pillows at ‘color’ and ‘personality’ without spending a technical s@#$ton on ‘wall-art’. And for those of us who are too cheap to buy really fun furniture (meaning everything I own is very practical and in a ‘love it forever’ color of neutral) that color is necessary. Esp if you rent and cant paint.
    3: They are functional. All of the pillows in my house are used for lounging on a regular basis.
    4.: You can ‘redecorate’ every few years and get a completely new house/apartment for the cost of a few throw pillows (see reason 2 and the awesomely neutral furniture).

    I side with Joanna.

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 1:02 am

      I will concede that your number 2 is a very good argument. Our couch pillows shown above in the post image add a lot of color to an otherwise drab, neutral couch and room. And they didn’t cost us a fortune.

      I don’t like agreeing with those taking Joanna’s side, but you made some compelling points.

      • Reply Lacy @EarnVerse February 23, 2013 at 9:58 am

        Thanks Johnny. For women every where defending their pillows, I feel I have one but a small victory. Huzzah!

  • Reply Sarah February 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I’m going to side with Joanna, but I’m also going to take this opportunity to rant about pillows. Everybody says they are cheap, but let’s look at the math, shall we? Say you have a couch and a love seat. Most people (ok, women) would agree you need four decorative pillows. With pillows starting at $30/pop (and really, the nice ones that last forever and are washable are much, much more), we’re talking at least $120. Ouch!
    Actually, my friend Mary (link below) just posted about the pillows she jazzed up…and I really like this idea. Nursing and being pregnant seems to require all different kinds of pillows–and lots of them!–so I love the idea of being able to whip off a thrifted sheet pillow cover that’s been covered in spit up or peepee, throw it in the wash, and voila! Makes me wonder if I can buy cheap thrift store pillows that way, and save a lot of money?

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 12:49 am

      Oh man, I get so annoyed with the cost of pillows. Places like Pottery Barn and West Elm sell the cases — without the pillow insert — for like $40-$60. Ridiculous. I have some 18″ square pillows in desperate need of new covers, but I haven’t been able to justify the expense yet. I really like the idea you presented. That might be just the solution I’ve been looking for. 🙂

  • Reply Mo' Money Mo' Houses February 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Hmm sounds a lot like me and my BF. Though I haven’t bought pillows for a while, but I love pillows, I need atleast two to sleep and need atleast two per couch, but my BF doesn’t get it. I’m not quite sure if I can explain why I like pillows so much, but I do so I side with your wife on the pillow debate. They definitely do help make a house a home.

    • Reply Johnny February 23, 2013 at 1:05 am

      Resist the urge! You don’t need more! Keep fighting!

  • Reply Michelle February 22, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Joanna, you can never have enough pillows. They are an inexpensive way to liven up a home and add a comfortable place to rest. I have 4 on my bed and a couple of little decorative ones. There are 5 on my coach and I would like to freshen up the decor soon. I change them once a year!

    • Reply Joanna February 23, 2013 at 12:44 am

      Thanks, Michelle! There are some topics Johnny will never understand… thank goodness for other girls who get where I’m coming from. Holla! 🙂 There are some areas of our house that need some extra pillow love, and your comment has empowered me to change that! (Sorry, Johnny ;))

  • Reply Laurie February 23, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Mrs PoP and Joanna, yes! Right there with you two. Pillows are a crucial component to a comfy life!

    • Reply Johnny February 25, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      I think Joanna is walking away from this post feeling more empowered. That wasn’t my intention. 🙂

  • Reply Budget and the Beach February 24, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I’m sort of split down the middle. I like a few decorative pillows on my bed when it’s made, and I have two on my couch, but other than that I don’t want my place to turn into a pillow mecca. But my place is small and could look cluttered easily. You each get one vote. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny February 25, 2013 at 11:50 pm

      Haha. From the comfort of our pillow mecca in the making, we thank you for your votes. 🙂

  • Reply Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin February 24, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    If I had a camera and the song from that scene in Office Space where they smash up the printer. I would record a video of myself setting our massive pile of pillows on fire. After a hard days work I just want to come home and relax, but nope! Minefield of pillows on the couch and minefield of pillows on the bed as well.

    • Reply Johnny February 25, 2013 at 11:52 pm

      Hahaha! My kind of comment, Marvin. Now I’m not going to be able to get that wonderful image out of my head.

  • Reply D5 February 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I have to cast my belated vote for Johnny. My fiance Lil’ Red loves throw pillows, and the only reason our collection is limited at this time is due to the lack of furniture in our tiny house. I’m fairly certain she has a supply stashed away, just waiting for the chance to unleash them.

    • Reply Johnny February 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      Your vote is appreciated, D5. And if you even have a small suspicion there are other pillows lurking in hiding, trust me, they are. Best of luck with your pillow crusade.

  • Reply Jacob @ iHeartBudgets February 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    You can’t really argue with the woman who bears your children, LOL! You will always lose this debate. Well, at least as far as the bed goes. We use 4 pillows and a body pillow on the bed, but when my wife was pregnant, we used all the other pillows that we normally just throw on the floor.

    As for couches and such, four pillows. Max. Otherwise you’re just trying to cover up an ugly couch, and you should get a different one. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny February 25, 2013 at 11:55 pm

      Man, when you put it that way… I guess I’m always going to lose, huh?

      Unfortunately, we have a sectional couch. So while it’s only one couch, it gets twice the pillows. No thanks.

  • Reply Shannon @ The Heavy Purse February 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Uh-oh. I’m torn. My husband is a minimalist when it comes to decorating, so he’d be firmly in Johnny’s camp. We don’t have a lot of “extra” pillows in our home and now I’m accustomed to only having a few pillows to move around, which is kind of nice. On the flip side, pillows can add the right amount of pop to a room too. Can I declare a tie?

    • Reply Johnny February 25, 2013 at 11:58 pm

      Very diplomatic, Shannon. 🙂 We appreciate a comment that satisfies both of our opinions.

  • Reply Mindy C March 21, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Woa, and to think that I felt guilty for adding 2 to the couch.

    When were were dating we were living in two states, so we have a set of pillows at each place and a couple more for the occasional guests. Now that we have moved in together, we only need two for sleeping. I punched and kneaded the extras into throw pillow shapes and put covers on them for the couch. Guess who’s hogging the five on the couch now? Him.

    I am really enjoying this blog.

    • Reply Johnny March 23, 2013 at 11:32 am

      Hah. You’re doing alright with two on the couch. That’s awesome that you made some other pillows out of your extras. And I’ll admit that on rare occasions, you’ll find me huddled on the couch with three or four pillows around me. But that’s usually when I’m too lazy to throw them on the ground. 🙂

  • Reply Megan March 23, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I love this post!

    My boyfriend and I disagree on pillows/cushions too. If I’m at work and he’s having a couch day, I come home to scatter cushions all over the lounge room floor. He just doesn’t get it.

    I think decorative cushions/pillows are one of the things that mark the difference between a bachelor pad and a cozy home. It used to be fun visiting the bachelor pad but I definitely don’t want to live in it!

    • Reply Johnny March 23, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Haha. On the days that I make the bed, I sometimes “forget” to put the extra pillows up on the bed. 🙂 They’re just extra stuff and they always seem to get in the way. Maybe I’m just having withdrawals from my bachelor pad days.

  • Reply Erin April 8, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I am with Roo and Joanna. Pillows Forever. We (only) have 6 pillows on our bed. 2 for sleeping, 2 regular pillows in shams to cover the sleeping pillows when we make the bed, 1 decorative pillow, and my must-have maternity body pillow because anything that helps me sleep right now is non-negotiable. The only pillow we have to put on the floor while we sleep is the small decorative one. And about the couch. Our couch is tan and boring and impersonal. I added a few pops of color and comfort through some decorative pillows, and BOOM. A happy couch and a happy wife. And I think even Johnny will agree, a happy wife is the goal. I am cheap with my pillows though… nothing more than $20.

    • Reply Joanna April 8, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Pretty much agree with everything you said, Erin! Pillows are perfect for making an impersonal piece of furniture have some character. Having a happy wife should be priceless to husbands… duh! And yet they continue to fight us. Shame, shame. 😉

      Also, when I was pregnant, I slept with three pillows some nights, and always at least two. I would have died without them! So really, I owe pillows my life. 😀

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